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For the past 20 years or so, Jim Woodrings beloved trilobular chuckbuster Frank has enjoyed one mindbending catastrophe after another in the treacherous embrace of The Unifactor, the land into which he was born and from
which escape seemed neither desirable nor likely. And then, abruptly, in 2011’s acclaimed Congress of the Animals (the second Woodring orginal graphic novel, following Weathercraft) Frank did leave the Unifactor for uncharted lands beyond — where, after a string of trials, he acquired a soulmate named Fran.
This development raised far more questions than it answered. Would Frank become placid and domesticated? Would he be jilted? Would he turn out to be a dreadful cad? Would he become a downtrodden and exhausted paterfamilias staring vacantly into the dimming fire of life as obnoxious grandchildren pulled his peglike ears and stole his porridge?
The answers to these fruitless speculations and many more are delivered in a devastatingly unpredictable fashion in Fran, which is in effect part two of Congress of the Animals. Fans of Frank, connoisseurs of bizarre romance, and spelunkers in the radiant depths of graphic metaphysical psychodrama will want to add this singular cartoon adventure story to their lifetime reading list.
10-page excerpt (download 1.3 MB PDF):
Praise for Congress of the Animals:
2012 Eisner Award Nominee: Best Writer/Artist (Jim Woodring)
Winner, Prix Spécial du jury (Jury Prize), 2012 Festival International de la Bande Desinée de Angoulême (French edition)
Finalist, 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Graphic Novels
"When most people try to employ dream logic in their work they fail miserably but Jim [Woodring] is great at it. The closest thing to a peer he might have is David Lynch but even that’s a stretch. Jim Woodring is the only Jim Woodring and no one has done what he does except for him." – Nicholas Gazin, Vice
"Expectations are foiled at every turn precisely because Woodring is digging deep into the rich soil of his own imagination; he's pulling these stories up from the same place that myths and legends come from, and in that way, his books have the weird weight and unmistakable freshness of myth." – Paul Constant, The Stranger
"Frank's adventures take place in a kind of Byzantine fun-house phantasmagoria of windows-slash-orifices, faces without faces, and extruded intestines. The spirit is like Disney meets Hieronymus Bosch, a comic surrealism in which Frank undergoes an exile and return from his beloved home." – Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly
"There is no one remotely like Jim Woodring. I admire dozens of living cartoonists, but Jim's wordless comic book stories... are some of the most mindbending books I've ever read.... Is there a lesson to be learned from Congress of the Animals? What is the meaning behind it, and Woodring's other books? That's the question I'm unable to answer. His comics affect the part of my brain that can think and feel, but cannot verbalize. His comics change me, but I can't say why or how." – Mark Frauenfelder, Boing Boing
"...Congress of the Animals finds twisted fabulist Woodring at the top of his darkly delightful game: Open the book at random and the odds are very good that your gaze will alight upon something that stings, bites, drips, oozes or squelches.... You certainly won't want to live inside the covers of Congress of the Animals, but it's a fascinating and thrilling feat of imagination, and one hell of a place to visit." – Glen Weldon, NPR.org
"As one surreal event leads to another, including a battle with men with holes for faces, an arduous journey to a mystical tower, and the blossoming of love, [Congress of the Animals] continually tries to outdo itself in its pure unpredictability. These misshapen figures recall a combination of Maurice Sendak, Terry Gilliam, and R. Crumb, blending the loopy and the nightmarish in a way that is both unsettling and inspiring." – Max Winter, Boston Globe
Praise for Weathercraft:
"...Jim Woodring's Weathercraft creates a fantastic alternative universe. ...Woodring constructs a nightmarish tale in which Manhog falls victim to the villainous depredations of the all-too-aptly named Whim and the spells of the witchy pair Betty and Veronica. Those unfamiliar with the Woodring dreamscape may want to pick up The Frank Book collection as a primer, but the stand-alone Weathercraft requires no real prep work — just an openness to disturbing, id-derived imagery." – Cliff Froehlich, St. Louis Post-Dipatch
"It’s all even stranger than [the] description makes it sound, but Woodring manages
to make it all somehow convincing and compelling. There’s a consistent internal logic at work, and his
cartoony-but-detailed drawing style, loaded with surreal imagery (think Walt Disney meets Carlos
Castaneda) is the ideal vehicle to convey this hauntingly peculiar tale. And if it doesn’t all make
perfect — or even imperfect — sense, its mysteries and subtleties reward repeat readings. Over the past two
decades Woodring has created a dense and distinctive universe, and Weathercraft is perhaps its most
rewarding portrayal yet."
– Gordon Flagg, Booklist
"When most people try to employ dream logic in their work they fail miserably but Jim [Woodring] is great at it. The closest thing to a peer he might have is David Lynch but even that’s a stretch. Jim Woodring is the only Jim Woodring and no one has done what he does except for him. ... There’s not much point in trying to sum up the story of this comic. There’s no text, the art is beautiful, and you’re totally consumed by the world he’s created and you exist inside it while you’re reading it." – Nick Gazin, Vice
Praise for Jim Woodring and Frank:
"The ancient myths and folk tales of all cultures which have been preserved for so many centuries have meaning for us today because the fantastic elements in them are rooted in immutable reality. The Frank stories belong to this class of literature." – Francis Ford Coppola
"Jim Woodring may be the most important cartoonist of his generation. The Frank stories are masterpieces, each and every one. Read them. Re-read them. Re-re-read them. Every cell in your body will remember this spellbinding, visionary work." – Scott McCloud
"The Frank stories have a meditative, hallucinatory feel... They tap into a universal consciousness of archetypes. But ultimately Frank tells one story, everyone's story, the same story as life: 'How Laughably Absurd It All Is.'" – Time.com
"Frank's a frankly mind-blown creature who reminds you that there are more worlds in the world than you may be recognizing as you go about the daily grind." – New York Press